This football language podcast looks back at Day 7 of the 2020 European Championships. We discuss some phrases connected with the Netherlands’ win over Austria. You can read a transcript for this podcast below, while you can also check out our glossary of footballing phrases here and visit our site to access all our previous posts and podcasts. If you have any suggestions or questions then you can contact us at

Hit their stride – Football Language Euro 2020: day 7

DB: You’re listening to’s football language Euro 2020 podcast. Hello football fans. Are you enjoying the Euros, or maybe your eye is on South America and the Copa America? Well, at languagecaster we are focusing on the big tournament taking place across the continent of Europe. On this show, I’m going to talk about a few phrases found in the opening of a BBC match report. The match report was for the Netherlands versus Austria game, which the Dutch won 2-0. The main phrase is ‘to hit their stride’.

Hit their strideStinger: You are listening to (in Dutch).

Booked Their Spot

DB: Yes, you are listening to and that message was in Dutch. Congratulations to all Dutch fans, as their side win twice in group C, meaning they go through to the next round: the knockout stage.

The BBC report describes this like this: “The Netherlands booked their spot in last 16 at Euro 2020.

Embed from Getty Images

Booked their spot, or booked their place, means to qualify. They progress to the next stage. The knockout stage in this sentence is referred to as ‘the last 16‘. After that round is the ‘last eight’ or the quarter finals. By the time we have only four teams, most people will talk about the semi finals, rather than the last four. So, the last 16, the last eight or the quarter finals, and the semis.

The BBC report continues with “they saw off Austria in Amsterdam to win Group C with a game to spare.”

See Off

To see off, means to beat, to defeat, to overcome. So, the Dutch saw off Austria, they overcame the Austrians. The sentence also uses the phrase ‘a game to spare‘. this means the Netherlands still have one more game, a spare game, that they do not need to win. They have booked their spot to the last 16 early.

The Dutch have six points, while in second and third, Ukraine and Austria each have 3. Crucially, these two teams play each other next, so they both cannot overhaul or catch the Netherlands.

Hit Their Stride

DB: But the phrase I want to highlight is in the next sentence in the BBC report: “Frank de Boer’s side, who beat Ukraine in their opening fixture, look to be hitting their stride.”

Frank de Boer’s side look like they are hitting their stride. To hit your stride means to get into a good rhythm, to play consistently well. We could also say they have hit form. In most tournaments, the team or teams that find their form or hit their stride often go deep in the competition. To go deep means to progress through the rounds to the last eight or the semis at least. Will the Dutch go deep in this tournament?

Another side that seems to have hit their stride is Italy in Group A. The Azzuri have two wins, like the Netherlands, and they have scored six and let in, conceded, no goals. Looking good!

Stinger: You are listening to (in Italian).

Good Bye

DB: Yes, you are listening to and that message was in Italian. So, today we looked at book your place, the last 16, and other expressions for the different rounds in a competition, a game to spare, as well as hit your stride and go deep.

That’s it for this short podcast. remember, you can also come along and play in our predictions competition, vote in our Euro 2020 poll and find lots of football language on our site here at Enjoy all the football. Ta-ra!

Learn English Through Football
Learn English Through Football

Free football language podcast for learners of English brought to you by Damian and Damon. Interviews, match reviews, predictions all with full language support for football fans around the world who wish to improve their English language skills.

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I was born and brought up near Chester in the north west of England. I have always loved playing and talking about sport, especially football!
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  • Hello. I see the sentence “book their passage” in the following. What does “passage” mean?

    It’s all over at Hampden Park, where Croatia have come from behind to draw with the Czech Republic in a result that means England can book their passage through to the last 16 with a win over Scotland.

    • Hi Dwi,
      Thanks for the question.
      To book their passage here means to qualify for the next round – if England beat Scotland then they will play in the knock-out stages (the last 16). Another way of saying this might be, ‘secure their passage (or qualification)’.
      Hope that helps 🙂

Euro 2020Episode 745